Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quick Update

We were on our way to the lake last weekend and decided to check on the bees on our way out of town.  A lot changed in a few days!  I didn't have my camera with me to show you in photos, but I'll leave a quick update here and get some photos to share soon.

- The first hive, which had been doing the best, had build no new comb in the new box we put on - zero percent new comb. We think they may have swarmed.  You may have heard of a "swarm" before. In beekeeping terms, it means about half the hive left to start a new colony. Yes, they up and left.  Often a swarm will rest peacefully on a nearby branch (or picnic table, etc. - something nearby) until they are able to start forming a new hive.  Some beekeepers are dedicated to catching swarms and some cities even have volunteers who will come and collect a swarm from someone's property and put them into a hive. There are beekeepers who never purchase new bees: they either keep their own hives or collect swarms to make new colonies. There's so much more to talk about regarding swarms, and even how the bees prepare for this, but this was supposed to be a "quick update".

-The second hive, which was doing "fine" and didn't seem to catch much attention on the blog, has exploded (in a good way).  With all the nectar "flow" out in the blooming plants everywhere outside, they had already fully filled their new box with comb.  It's almost time to add a 5th box!

-The third hive, "my hive", remains with poor temperament and struggling to keep up.  We doubt they will make it through winter, so we are deciding how to deal with that.  Let them try, kill them off, harvest all the honey, use the comb next season... There are a lot of options, but we don't have to decide yet.

I'm looking forward to getting some photos - that second hive is now taller than any hive we've had so far.

Also, for fun, I'm entering some of my beekeeping photos in our County Fair next week.  Cross your fingers for me!

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A New Bee and Big Inspection

Mr. Bee and I went without the kiddos this time to do a bigger inspection and move some boxes around to get ready for the "honey flow".  This is when the nectar flows are in peak and the bees make tons of comb and honey, and it's important for us to make sure they have plenty of frames available to work on.

While Mr. Bee and I were getting suited up to do our big inspection, I saw a strange insect pollinating some little wildflowers nearby.  Upon a closer look, I was amazed that it looked just like a honeybee...except with a bright green body!  I've looked into it and I'm pretty sure this was a "Green Metallic Bee", of the genus Agapostemon.  According to Wikipedia, there "are some 45 species" of this type of insect, and their range goes all the way from Canada to Argentina! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agapostemon) (photo below mine)

Green Metallic Bee, Clear Lake, MN by Erica Knudson
Our girls are working hard.  The third hive (my hive) is falling behind.  Their temperament is still volatile and the hive was not as busy out in front when we arrived.  Mr. Bee took apart the frames in the brood box to inspect, and he felt very sorry to have done it.  Taking the frames apart ripped open a lot of comb that held developing larvae, so it may set them back a little more.  We left the brood frames alone in the other hives.

The middle, "second" hive is trucking along normally.

We feel the first hive, "Rhema's Hive" is doing really well.  The following photos are from that hive.

Lots of comb and honey...


...and happy beekeepers.


 (I finally thought to set my timer and get a shot of the both of us!)


The wood frames are turning out to be a great change.  The bees are really drawing the comb out thick, and it's beautiful!


On a couple frames we saw some longer cells, which I believe are for drones (male bees) (below).  They were all lined up on the bottom of the frame, so I'm looking into whether this is normal or if the bees are doing this to manage something like mites (a pest to honeybees). I'll get back to you on this. We did feel, though, that it wasn't excessive or worrisome, so it feels like these bees are on top of things.  


The area in front of the bees is growing beautifully and wild.


My favorite shot from the day is definitely this one:

by Erica Knudson